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Tech Law Journal
Daily E-Mail Alert
Oct. 4, 2000
8:00 AM ET.
Alert No. 34.

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News Briefs

10/3. The Senate passed S 2054, the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000, by a vote of 96 to 1. The bill increases the annual cap on H1B visas, which enable aliens with tech skills to work in the U.S. for high tech companies. S 2045 increases the number of non-immigrant alien workers annually allowed into the country on an H1B visa from the current level of 115,000 to 195,000 over the next three years. The current cap of 115,000 visas for FY 2000 was filled in less than six months. The visa limit drops to 107,500 visas for FY 2001, which began on Oct. 1, and to 65,000 visas in FY 2002. The bill also raises application fees from $500 to $1,000. The House Judiciary Committee passed a different H1B bill, HR 4227, the Technology Worker Temporary Relief Act, sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX). That bill would have temporarily removed the cap on H1B visas, but included several American worker protection provisions. See, Tech Law Journal Summary of H1B Bills.
10/3. The House passed S 2045, without further amendment, by a voice vote, after a brief debate. Bill Clinton will sign the bill.
10/3. The Senate Judiciary Committee passed its H1B bill in March, and the House Judiciary Committee passed its H1B bill in May. Further consideration was delayed, as Democrats in the Senate insisted on attaching unrelated immigration proposals to the H1B bill. Al Gore released a statement. Quote: "I am disappointed that the Senate bill does not include the Latino Immigration Fairness Act." Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) said, "it’s regrettable that Democratic gamesmanship held up this high-tech priority for months." See, release.
10/3. The House passed HR 3850, the Independent Telecommunications Consumer Enhancement Act of 2000, sponsored by Rep. Barbara Cubin (R-WY). The bill would provide regulatory relief for local exchange carriers with fewer than 2% of the subscriber lines in the U.S.
10/3. The House passed HR 3484, sponsored by Rep. Bill McCollum (R-FL), the Child Sex Crimes Wiretapping Act of 1999. The bill would provide that certain sexual crimes against children are predicate crimes for the interception of communications.
10/3. Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) introduced HR ___, the Business Method Patent Improvement Act of 2000.
10/3. Rep. Chris Cox (R-CA) introduced HR ___, the Financial Accounting for Intangibles Reexamination (FAIR) Act. It would delay for one year the proposed elimination of the pooling of interests method of accounting for mergers. It provides that a final decision by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) must await the results of a comprehensive study of the appropriate methods of accounting for intangibles. Background: The House Commerce Committee's Finance Subcommittee, of which Rep. Cox is a member, held a hearing on this issue on May 4. See, hearing documents.
10/3. The Senate Commerce Committee held yet another hearing on Internet privacy. Several bills are pending, including S 2928, the Consumer Internet Privacy Enhancement Act, a bill introduced by Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). Senators conceded that it is too late in the 106th Congress to pass privacy legislation. Sen. McCain stated that "I look forward to engaging in this process as move toward the next Congress and I commit to reporting legislation from the Committee and working for its passage on the floor." See, statement [PDF]. See also, prepared testimony of witnesses [PDF]:
 • George Vradenburg (AOL).
 • Simson Garfinkel (author).
 • Marc Rotenberg (EPIC).
10/3. The government filed its response [PDF] to Microsoft's motion regarding the briefing schedule in the U.S. Court of Appeals (DC) in the Microsoft antitrust case. It asked for a faster briefing schedule, and shorter briefs. Under the government's proposed schedule, Microsoft's principal brief would be due by Nov. 1, and be limited to 24,000 words. The opposition brief would be due Dec. 8, and be limited to 24,000 words. Finally, Microsoft's reply brief would be due by Dec. 22, and be limited to 7,000 words. (Response to Microsoft's Motion for an Order Governing Further Proceedings, U.S.C.A. Nos. 00-5212 and 5213.) The SIIA released a statement supporting the government's request.
10/2. Microsoft filed its Motion for an Order Governing Further Proceedings with the U.S. Court of Appeals (DC). It requested "that each side be given 60 days to prepare its principal brief and that Microsoft be given 30 days to prepare its reply brief." It also requested that principal briefs may be overlength -- up to 56,000 words.
10/3. Pseudo Programs, which provided streaming media, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the (SDNY).
10/3. Network Solutions announced that the NSI Registrar will begin registering domain names in Chinese (simplified and traditional), Japanese and Korean. See, release.
10/3. ICANN published a list of applications for new TLDs.
10/3. The SEC announced six promotions in its Division of Corporation Finance. It named named Paula Dubberly Chief Counsel. She replaces Catherine Dixon. The SEC also named Barbara Jacobs Asst. Director in charge of the Office of Computers and Online Services. She replaces James Daly. See, release.
10/2. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) introduced HR 5350, a bill to exempt agreements relating to voluntary guidelines governing telecast material, movies, video games, Internet content, and music lyrics from the applicability of the antitrust laws.
10/2. The USTR announced results of its ongoing reviews of Canada and Peru under § 1377 of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988, regarding the operation and effectiveness of U.S. telecom trade agreements. The USTR criticized Canada for maintaining a universal service system which impedes competition. See, USTR release.
10/2. U.S. Philips Corp. filed a complaint in U.S. District Court (SDNY) against Analog Devices and five other semiconductor companies alleging infringement of patent rights in inter-integrated circuit bus technology. Philips makes consumer electronics, lighting, and semiconductor products. Analog, based in Norwood, Mass., makes integrated circuits used in analog and digital signal processing applications.
9/27. William Reinsch, head of the Bureau of Export Administration at the Commerce Dept., gave a speech to the "Information Security Solutions Europe 2000 Conference" in Barcelona, Spain, titled "United States Encryption Policy." He stated that "cryptography remains a challenging public policy issue, but the issue of the future will be our collective ability to avoid the converse of export controls -- protectionist trade barriers or artificial standards, de facto or de jure, intended to keep foreign software products out of selected markets."
9/25. Sandra Weisman was named Deputy CFO at the USPTO. She was formerly at the Dept. of Veterans Affairs. See, release.
9/25. Jing Jing Fan Mou entered a plea of guilty in U.S. District Court (CDCa) to two felony counts: conspiracy and trafficking in counterfeit goods. She had purchased and distributed Microsoft Windows NT Server and Professional Office 1997 software with a black market value of more than $600,000. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 4. See, DOJ release.
Editor's Note: This column includes all News Briefs added to Tech Law Journal since the last Daily E-Mail Alert. The dates indicate when the event occurred, not the date of posting to Tech Law Journal.
New TLJ Stories

Bill Would Change Business Method Patent Process. (10/3) Rep. Berman and Rep. Boucher introduced a bill in the House that would make several changes to the business method patent process. Such patents would still be granted, but they would be harder to obtain, and easier to challenge.
New Documents

Berman: Business Method Patent Improvement Act of 2000, introduced 10/3 (HTML, TLJ).
Berman: Statement re business method patent bill, 10/3 (HTML, TLJ).
Boucher: Statement re business method patent bill, 10/3 (HTML, TLJ).
Berman/Boucher: Summary of business method patent bill, 10/3 (HTML, TLJ).
DOJ: Response to Microsoft's Motion for an Order Governing Further Proceedings, 10/3 (PDF, DOJ).
MSFT: Motion for an Order Governing Further Proceedings, 10/2 (HTML, MSFT).
FCC: Memorandum Opinion & Order re granting Inmarsat a 9 month extension of time to conduct IPO, 10/3 (MS Word, FCC).
Reinsch: Speech re U.S. encryption policy, 9/27 (HTML, BXA).
New and Updated Sections

Calendar (updated daily).
News from Around the Web (updated daily).
Quote of the Day

"Two years ago, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled in the State Street Bank decision that a patent could be issued on a method of doing business. Since then, the Patent and Trademark Office has been deluged with applications for business method patents. Unfortunately, the PTO has granted some highly questionable ones. Last year, it awarded a patent to for its "one-click" method of shopping at a web site. The press recently reported that the PTO is now on the verge of awarding a patent covering any computer to  computer international commercial transaction. Something is fundamentally wrong with a system that allows individuals to get patents for doing the seemingly obvious. And it has led to a lot of unnecessary litigation."

Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA)


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